3220 — Gurdago and Cuoli at their height

Rebellion in Luduyn

Perhaps the First and Second Empires had been more glorious, but the Third Empire of Gurdago had its satisfactions. An empire over near-savages, close to home, and far from any serious rivals, surely had staying power. The cold forests of Luduyn had plenty of resources (wood, furs, reindeer, Mgunikpe slaves, minerals and gems from the elcari), and the Čia and Ša were hungry for manufactured goods.

The Gurdagor made some effort to civilize the natives, instructing them in their language and religion, and allowing them to serve in the army and help conquer their cousins; their best students were named as their chiefs. It was something of an embarrassment when the Čia garrison in Luxae rebelled and occupied the town (3215), but it would be short enough work to put them down.

The Prose Wars

Division into warring states has alway seemed lamentable to the Axunaic peoples; it was inevitable, then, that the Revaudo and dzunye (royalist) halves of Xurno would attempt to conquer each other. In the civil war that began in 3087, the Revaudo state had twice the population of its rival, and its troops were still motivated by revolutionary fervor; by 3097 it had utterly defeated the royalists, and was reorganizing the conquered territories along Revaudo lines.

The politics of the postwar period were dominated by the Prose Wars, which focused on whether writing in prose could be considered an art form (and thus whether writers could be admitted to the ruling class). There were any number of strikes, riots, manifestos, and insurrections before the question was decided in the affirmative (but narrowly; ‘journalistic’ writers were excluded from the new Salon). The issue was more than a matter of categories: prose largely meant nonfiction— what we would call science. The acceptance of a Prose Academy meant that Xurno would be more open to scientific ideas even if these originated in foreign lands.

The Xurnese reconquest of Bolon (by 3160) and the Cuolese advances against the Losainor highlight the eclipse of the barbarians. The military balance of power has shifted from the nomads to the agricultural states. The most noticeable factor is the large standing armies maintained by the settled states, better trained and more reliable than the feudal levies of the Dark Years. These in turn were made possible by stronger governments, more productive agriculture, a resurgence in trade, and a reawakening of the spirit of innovation. Once war began to depend on economic strength and advances in weaponry (the Xurnese and Cuolese had better armor, better crossbows, and explosives), the nomads were at a distinct disadvantage.

The civilized states lost no time testing these advances out on each other. Cuoli had the advantage in its early struggles with Xurno, first picking off Bozan (3120) and later the upper Xengi (3180). Having broken the power of the Losainor and humbled the Sevisre, Cuoli seems to have graduated from a minor to a major power.

The little state of Tásuc Tag (the Blue Coast), had accepted Revaudo but found Xurno too radical; it was organized as a conventional republic run by local oligarchs. In 3150 it succeeded in conquering its longtime rival, Čiqay.

In the north

It’s a dark time in Eretald, a comedown from the renaissance of Caleon and his successors. In Verduria, the general Boďomor Kušďey usurped the sash in 3128, losing it only three years later to another warlord. Caloton, Duke of Pelym, restored order in 3142; but the sash was usurped again in 3198 by the wizard Utu, and under his tyranny Verduria became a dark and unhappy land. During one or the other time of troubles much of the gains of Caleon and Ževuran were lost. Wizards rarely seek temporal power, and when they do it is not for merely human reasons; Utu needed state-level resources for some magical enterprise, but so long as he got them he was completely uninterested in normal statecraft.

More alarming, Dhekhnam pushed the Caizurans across the Ctelm mountains (3120; many of them subsequently poured into southeastern Eretald), reconquered Sarnáe, and disposed of Mitigaoma (3160-72). The Dhekhnami have also applied their expertise in exploiting dynastic strife to Eretald; they supported rebellions in southern Barakhún and eastern Ismahi, and the resulting independent states, Azgami and Mútkün, are now Dhekhnami client states— bases for espionage and further subversion. Both have also formally recognized the worship of Gelalh, though only the elite bothered with this.

In the 3190s, following a disastrous loss to Dhekhnam, the little Kahon Tej split into two kingdoms, Sakro and Bukural.

The only bright spots are in the northern littoral, most notably the Directorate of Érenat, where prosper not generals and wizards, but artists, merchants, and farmers. The invention of printing, by Adriano Boďmorey (3184), has made Érenat the cultural center of the Caďinorian lands. Printing quickly spread to Kebri, Ismahi, and Flora, and facilitated a burgeoning interest in physics, astronomy, and chemistry.

Kebri reclaimed the Strait Islands in 3140. Busy with warlords and wizards, Verduria was neglecting the maritime trade that had created its wealth; Kebri moved quickly to take up the slack. It was the first of the northern powers (Jeor and Gurdago had pioneered the technique in the south long ago) to discover the rewards of exclusive trading rights; by 3200 it was leaving troops in the Little Kingdoms and Moreo Ašcai to help enforce its monopolies.

The Kebreni have brought such novelties as coffee, cane sugar, and vanilla from Nan to Eretald, as well as turned rice (kim) from an exotic oddity to a staple. Their traders are also pioneers in shipbuilding and in accounting— modern bookkeeping in Eretald still follows Kebreni methods (and uses Kebreni technical terms).

Trade with Kebri enriched the Nanese ocean ports, and made the rulers in Laidöü upstream seem completely out of touch. In 3165 the merchants of o-Dayevu proclaimed that the o-nɛki o-Seutsɛ was the only rightful ruler of Nan. With the help of two Kebreni ships, o-Seutsɛ was able to establish his authority over the whole country. He established a regime keenly attentive to knowledge from Eretald, including the adoption of writing.

Ambekh I brought Barakhún to its height, extending Barkhinei power in the Western Wild and expanding along the Khoneda to occupy the straggling Somoyi towns of the upper Lernukh (by 3140). Dissident nobles under Dhekhnami influence repudiated his grandson Albekh in 3182, forming the state of Mútkün.

The Eluyet and Makši established a joint chieftancy in 3184; the first, Makši anaraz took an Eluyet wife and named advisors from both tribes. In the old days, such unions were the run-up to invasions of Eretald; the present union is defensive in nature. Farther west, the Obenzayet have defeated the Kačanöt, and this has triggered a general shuffle of the Meťelyi southward.

In the southeast

Dusila and Pafliopagimi were united by a dynastic union in 3162, forming the kingdom of Šura (Tžuro for Skouras); ten years later the new state conquered Ičili, and reduced the territory of the Disainor. (In compensation, the Disainor are attempting to extend their empire to the southern Qaraus.)

This was the first time in more than seven centuries that the Tžuro of Skouras have been united. But though it was still Jippirasti, it was not a tej of old. The foreign occupation shattered the old ways, and catalyzed a drive for reform. New arts of war were needed, and if they must be learned from unbelievers or former enemies, so be it. Economic and social reform followed. The country was governed by a Senate on the model of Čeiy, and there is no atej at all, only an ažraŋ (Trustee) of the Senate.

In the Littoral, the Ḍas Uṭandal collapsed, in the wake of another, unsuccessful war with Luṭay (3149-3154). The Namal and Čisra went their own way; after a period of chaos, most of the remaining territory of the League was organized into the new state of Barmund. In a similar fashion, most of the Gelihur peninsula has united under the leadership of the city of Gelimai.

In the northern Ediri mountains appeared the new state of Belšai (3212). This mountainous area is an ethnic mishmash— Tžuro, Lenani, Cuoli, Sevisre, Sainor— and the Belšayin are the first to discover how such a region can be more than an appendage to some neighboring empire: it is organized into cantons, each largely autonomous, but united for purposes of defense and trade. The new idea is already under attack: Cuoli launched an operation against it in 3220.